Yesterday was obviously an emotional day for everyone involved. You had current players having to cope with the loss of their coach and the prospect of having someone brand new on the sidelines next season. There was an outpouring of support from both current former players in appreciation for what Tedford has done for both the university and themselves.
On top of that, you have the press conference with Sandy Barbour and a statement from Tedford himself.
There's also a contingent of former players and alumni who were none too pleased with the decision, with Cal great Aaron Rodgers calling it disrespectful.
Let's try and navigate through some of the talk.
The Bear Insider has a writeup with comments from current OL Jordan Rigsbee and LB Nick Forbes with a video of their interview that you can watch below.
Tedford's comments to his team were reportedly very heartfelt with the primary points being his encouragement to the players to rise to occasion both on the field and in the classroom.
"He told us he cared about us," said Forbes. "He told us that despite everything, he knows the kind of talent we have and that there will always be a part of us with him. He told us to finish strong academically because that was one of his main points in recruiting -that Cal's an academic institution and he wants us all to be successful in life."
It's not much of a surprise that Tedford stayed classy through the very end, and his message to his players remained consistent with the type of coach he's been to his players through his 11 years at Cal. For all the knocks on Tedford, no one has been able to deny the genuine care he's shown for his players and the effect that he's had on all of them.
Speaking of that effect, the outpouring from former players, many of which who are currently in the NFL, was pretty vocal in support for Tedford. Most tweets yesterday cited their gratitude and appreciation for Coach Tedford.
California Golden Blogs has a pretty good collection of the thoughts here.
One of the most famous former Cal players, and close friend to Jeff Tedford took it one step further however. Aaron Rodgers called the decision and "terrible," and frankly "disrespectful."
"It's a shame, because when you promise a guy the stuff that you promised him and he fulfills everything you asked him to do on the field, regardless of the injuries they had this year, to always continue to prepare those guys like I know he did--to not give him a chance to recruit to those facilities is a shame."
You can listen to the entire clip below courtesy "Okaydo."
I tweeted this yesterday, but I don't blame Rodgers for feeling the way he does in the slightest. I can completely see it the way he does, and a part of me sees that perspective as completely valid and frankly, truthful. I'd be shocked if he didn't feel this way.
With that said, I do think his emotional attachment to Tedford limits him from seeing the larger picture as to the state of Cal football. Both where it is currently, and the overall trajectory of where the program really has been for the last 5 years or so. The decision to move on from Tedford is in many people's opinions what is ultimately best for the university, its football program, including the financial scope of what's at stake here.
Rodgers is right in that it is a "shame," and that most people wanted Tedford to continue to be successful here and few wanted a successful Tedford out. But the reality is that the program hasn't been up to par with where its needed to be for the past few years and showed little sign it was getting better. If anything, it showed it was only getting worse. So really, it is unfortunate, but it doesn't make the move any less necessary.
The media reaction to Tedford's dismissal followed suit with a general sense of sadness but recognition of Tedford's great influence on the Cal program. Yahoo! Sports Write Mike Silver might have said it best in his tweet:
Jeff Tedford has given Cal 11 years of excitement. Helped take our program out of the abyss & upgrade it immensely. He will always be a Bear.
Long time Bay Area sports writer Glenn Dickey called Tedford's firing the "Wrong Move for Cal Football" however.
In reading his comments, I can't help but disagree with his most salient point that it is largely difficult to build a "consistent football power" at Cal because of its academic standards, an out of touch city government and a lackadaisical school administration. And for these reasons, the school will struggle to attract top coaches.
While I would certainly affirm those hurdles, I think if anything, Dickey is essentially refuting his own assertion that we can do no better than what Tedford has produced in the past few years. Tedford has shown that winning football is indeed possible in Berkeley, and has made the head coaching position that much more desirable. Cal fans aren't dissatisfied with Cal football because we're simply not winning, we're dissatisfied because we know we can do much better than where the program is right now. Why? Because Tedford proved it's possible to better.
Much like the "victim of his own success" notion, Tedford has elevated expectations, and we're simply not buying the, "Woe is me, it's hard to win at Cal" argument anymore. That's one of the biggest reasons we're so indebted to what Tedford has done in Berkeley. And I think I speak for a majority of Cal fans that said we would have loved to have had Tedford continue that success here. The problem? He hasn't. And more importantly, he hasn't shown that he has the answers to turn it around anytime soon. And because of these expectations (and financial obligations), we're in no position to let him continue to try and make adjustments or tinkerings. We simply couldn't afford it.
So all in all, it's been an emotional process and I completely understand and to a lesser extent agree with some of the backlash against the firing. But let's be clear here: it was an unfortunate but necessary move. I'll reiterate my thoughts in that I really do wish things had turned out differently and if I could have had any say in how things worked out, I would have preferred no one else other than Tedford to lead the Bears back into national prominence. He had done too much for the program to have me think otherwise.
I simply didn't think it was possible anymore.